Tour of France

France and the 2013 Tour de France Cycling Tour experience. An adventure of a Lifetime

June 30th to July 10th 2013 – Completed

The 2013 Tour de France will be the 100th edition of the world’s greatest bicycle race. Velissimo – Cycling Destinations invites you to be a part of this incomparable historical and cultural experience as we explore the Cote d’Azur, Provence, Camargue, and the Pyrenees.

The 4th stage will see the Tour return to Nice with a Team Time Trial. Velissimo has secured your hotel rooms right at the finish line on the Promenade des Anglais to be close to the action.

We’ll catch the Tour race again the following day on its way from Cagnes-sur-Mer into the Provence.

The Velissimo 2013 Tour de France Cycling Experience will be a fun-filled world-class cycling tour offering spectacular routes, deluxe accommodations, and gourmet dinners, following famous stages of previous editions.

Day 1 – Arrival

Fly into Nice on June 30th and then relax at your hotel, the Palais de la Mediterranee, located on the boardwalk overlooking the beautiful Bay of Nice.

Day 2 – Nice

Celebrate your first full day with a walk along the water on the Promenade de Anglais as you prepare yourself for a great week of riding in the south of France.

Visit the Cours Saleya flower market as well as the Le Vieux Nice, the city’s old town, which features quaint shops where you can find Provencal wares, household items and gourmet gifts before returning to the Palais de la Mediterrannee.

Day 3 – Preparing for Your Ride

And what a way to prepare it will be! After having breakfast on the hotels veranda, head down to the finish line of a Tour de France Team Time Trial. You will then meet with your trip leaders for an introduction and bike fitting. The evening’s dinner will be a rare treat at one of Nice’s finest restaurants.

Day 4 – Nice to Le Couvent: 50 miles/80 kilometers

We’ll begin with a ride through the Alpes-Maritimes, which offer rolling landscapes, century-old oak trees, and historic villages. We will stop for lunch at a local café and then watch the Tour riders pass through on their next stage.

You will be staying at the Couvent des Minimes, a beautiful hotel dating back to the 16th century. Nestled on a hillside and drenched in Provencal sunshine, the convent was home to nuns before being converted into an upscale hotel in 2008. It features an intriguing blend of medieval architecture and contemporary design.

Day 5 – Forqualquier to Crillon le Brave: 45 miles/70 kilometers

Today, we will head west through charming villages and beautiful pine forests to the town of Crillon le Brave. If it’s market day, you will have a chance to shop for freshly-picked fruits, spices, and more.

We will stop for lunch at a brasserie in Sault, a beautiful Provencal town in the department of Vaucluse before heading out for more riding. There will be time to relax by the pool before gathering for dinner.

Day 6 – Mont Ventoux and surroundings: 52 miles/85 kilometers

Following a wonderful breakfast on the terrace of your hotel overlooking Mont Ventoux, you’ll be ready for another exiting day of cycling. We will begin with a ride to the village of Bédoin, with its terraced cafés, before heading on to a challenging climb to the top of the Mont Ventoux, a well-known stage finish of the Tour de France. We’ll then ride through the lovely village of Malaucene before finishing at your hotel, Bastide de Gordes, for a well-deserved afternoon of rest and relaxation. Take a stroll before treating yourself to a tantalizing one-star Michelin dinner in the village.

Day 7 – St-Remy de Provence, Egayliere, Arles: 52 miles/85 kilometers

On the way to the Camargue region you will discover some of Provence’s exquisite villages, beginning with Gordes, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Next, we will head to Eygalieres before reaching St-Rémy-Provence, a Gallo-Roman settlement with a downtown enclosed by walls. Known for its many brasseries and stores, St-Rémy-Provence is also famous for the artists and writers who have called the town home, including Vincent van Gogh, who moved there in 1889, and Nostradamus, who was a native.

Finish the day at Les Mas de la Fouque hotel at Le Mas de Peint, located in the heart of the Camargue.

Day 8 – Camargue to Sete: 65 miles/105 kilometers

After a wonderful breakfast, we will bike through the Parc Naturel-Regional de Camargue and on towards the Hotel de Paris in Sete, known as the Venice of Languedoc. Sete is a seaside resort on the Mediterranean with a strong cultural identity, traditions, cuisine, and dialect.

On the way you will pass through the fishing towns of Aigues Mortes and Palavas les Flots. Lunch will be served at one of the numerous cafés along the Mediterranean.

Before dinner, and with a pastis in your hand, you will learn the vital rules and regulations of Pétanque, a Provencal game that occupies the leisure time of young and old alike. You and your traveling companions will dine together at a local restaurant.

Day 9 – Sete to Carcassone: 90 miles/145 kilometers

Today’s ride will be our longest of the week, as we leave the coast and head into the countryside, riding through the towns of Beziers – which is famous for bullfighting – and Narbonne, before reaching the Hotel Chateau de Palaja in Carcassone.

Day 10 – Loop around Limoux: 40 miles/65 kilometers

On our final day of riding, we will bike south of Limoux and into the beautiful Parc Naturel des Pyrenees Ariégeoises. The Park, which is located in the southeast of France, was created in 2009.

For our last evening together, we will dine at a local restaurant where we will celebrate a great week of biking with local dishes and wine. Your lodging on this night will be the Hotel Chateau de Palaja.

Day 11 – Farewell

Enjoy a final breakfast with your cycling friends before saying “au revoir” to the beautiful Pyrenees.
We’ll take you to Toulouse and send you on your way to your next destination.


Our Professionalism

At Velissimo Cycling Destinations, we do our utmost to provide you with the finest cycling vacations.

We feature well-prepared routes, professional guides, deluxe accommodations, fine dining experiences, and an all-inclusive service package that will make your cycling vacation with us a memorable one.

Included in your trip

  • Deluxe accommodations at superior hotels
  • Bicycle equipped with seat bag, spare tubes, tire lever, multi-tool, and mini-pump
  • Experienced tour guides
  • Breakfast, 7 lunches, snacks, and drinks
  • 8 Gourmet dinners
  • Full support vehicle with luggage transport following the ride
  • Transfer from meeting point to final drop-off
  • Gratuities for hotel services, porters, and baggage
  • Custom Cycling Jersey

Inclusions are subject to change without notice. For additional information, answers to questions, or to make a reservation, call 1-808-327-0087 to speak with a Velissimo Cycling Destinations specialist.

Not included

  • Train or Airline tickets to and from the pick-up or drop-off locations
  • Lodging before or after the trip
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuities for your guides
  • Personal expenses such as laundry, telecommunications, mini bar, spa treatments, wine and other alcoholic beverages

Le Palais de la Mediteranee – Night 1, 2, & 3

Palais de la Méditerranée, a charming hotel located on the Promenade des Anglais. Towering over the Bay of Angels and the turquoise waters, the Palais de la Méditerranée is very close to numerous sightseeing attractions of Nice, the capital of the Cote d’Azur. The decor of the designer rooms mixes shades of blue, ochre, and saffron, recalling the landscapes of the Mediterranean shores and the French Riviera. Contemporary furnishings combine wenge and sycamore wood to give these luxurious rooms delicate harmony.

Phone: +33 (0) 4 92 14 77 00

Couvent des Minimes – Night 4

Situated on the hillside and drenched in Provencal sunshine, the Minimes Convent was first home to nuns before being converted into an upscale hotel. Protected from the Mistral wind by the Volx Rock, this building, dating back to 1613, is a successful fusion of medieval architecture and contemporary design. The rooms, decorated with great attention to detail, have a gentle Mediterranean touch, as does the Couvent des Minimes Spa by L’Occitane, a temple to wellness and a promise of renewed well-being.

Phone: +33 (0) 4 92 74 77 77

Crillon le Brave – Night 5

Flawlessly combining rustic charm and elegant luxury, the Hotel Crillon-le-Brave is an old medieval country house that has been converted into a magical hotel. The hotel, nestled above vineyards and olive groves, offers dramatic views of the Mt. Ventoux. The rooms are individual stone houses that are scattered across the property and each room is beautifully decorated to reflect the ambiance of the village.

Phone: +33 (0) 4 90 65 61 61

La Bastide de Gordes – Night 6

Located in the village of Gordes (listed as one of France’s most beautiful villages), La Bastide de Gordes is a luxurious hotel, built in what was once the old ramparts. This 16th century, the La Bastide offers all the residential splendor where charm, refinement, comfort, and luxury service mix. From the gardens, the terraces, the outdoor pool, the Spa, or your room, the valley lies at your feet. The Gourmet restaurant proposes savoury cuisine using Provencal and Mediterranean products.

Phone: + 33 (0)4 90 72 12 12

Le Mas de la Fouque – Night 7

Nestled at the edge of the regional Natural Reserve of the Camargue, the Mas of Fouque is ideally situated on 8 acres only 2 km from the beach. The hotel is a fine blend of local architecture and luxury in the heart of wilderness. Discover an extraordinary fauna right from your room: Pink flamingos, wild ducks, camarguais horses, and bulls. Every room and suite is unique, endowed with an atypical decoration and a private terrace with a view of ponds or the swimming pool.

Phone: +33 (0) 4 90 97 81 02

Hotel de Paris-Sete – Night 8

The Hotel De Paris is located in the center of the town of Sete, overlooking the canal. Each room is decorated with a different theme. The hotel offers a funky and hip interior design. Built upon and around Mont St Clair, Sete is situated on the south-eastern hub of the Bassin de Thau, an enclosed salt water lake used primarily for oyster and mussel fields. To its other side lies the Mediterranean.

Phone: +33 (0) 4 67 18 00 18

Hotel Chateau de Palaja – Night 9 & 10

The “Palaja Castle” is located in the center of the village of Palaja. It’s location is ideal for exploring the treasures of the region such as the medieval city of Carcassonne, the Canal du Midi, the Cathar castles, and the exceptional abbeys of Fontfroide Lagrasse and Saint-Hilaire. The region is well known for its Minervois, Corbieres, Cabardes, Maleperes wines or its regional Cassoulet, a rich, slow-cooked casserole, containing meat, typically pork sausages, goose, duck and sometimes mutton.

Phone: +33 (0)6 63 69 88 32

Cote d’Azure, also known as the French Riviera, is the Mediterranean coastline on the southeast corner of France. It used to be a winter health resort for the British upper class near the end of the 18th century. With the arrival of rail transportation in the mid-19th century, Cote d’Azur became the playground and vacation spot of aristocrats from throughout Europe, including Queen Victoria and King Edward VII.

The coastline was given its name by the writer Stéphen Liégeard in his book, La Cote d’Azur, published in 1887. Liégeard, who was born in Dijon, in the French department of Cote-d’Or, adapted the name by substituting the azure blue color of the Mediterranean for the gold of Cote-d’Or.

Cote d’Azur has a Mediterranean climate, with sunny, dry summers, and temperatures in July ranging from 68 to 74 degrees.

Provence is located in the southeastern corner of France and is known for its Mediterranean weather, lavender fields, olive trees, and rich history.

The region’s cuisine is distinctive, with emphasis on fresh fruit and vegetables, olive oil, seafood, and locally grown spices, such as rosemary, thyme, and lavender.

Traveling a la Provencal means sensual sauntering past scented lavender fields and chestnut forests, through fresh apple-green vineyards, and silvery olive groves. It means, exploring quaint markets, Matisse-designed chapels, and medieval hilltop villages impossibly perched on rocky crags.

Camargue is a triangular coastal area between the Languedoc and Provence, a river delta where the Rhone meets the sea.

The Camargue is western Europe’s largest river delta and the home of exceptional biological diversity, including unique breeds of Camargue horses and bulls, as well as more than 400 species of birds.

Approximately one-third of the Camargue is lake or marshland. The largest of the saltwater lakes is the Tang de Vaccares. Established as a national park and nature reserve in 1972, the Parc Régional de Camargue covers 820 square kilometers and includes some of the wildest and most protected terrain in Europe.

The Pyrenees mountain range follows the border between France and Spain from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. It is home to towering peaks and some of the most remote and interesting landscapes in Europe.

The Pyrenees are divided into three sections – Atlantic, Central, and Eastern. Together they form a distinct physiological province of the larger Alpine system.

Rich in flora and fauna and highlighted by spectacular limestone cirques, terraced meadows and high lakes, a Pyrenees’ cycling tour is a cyclist’s paradise.

Please note:

We pursue to make your tour a unique and personalized experience, for this reason, your itinerary is subject to slight modifications.

Once you signed up for a trip you will receive a comprehensive travel booklet with all the information you need to plan and prepare your tour.

Do not book your flights until you are confirmed on your Velissimo Cycling Destinations cycling tour.

2013 Tour de France Cycling Tour, 100th Edition, Nice, Team Time Trial.

The Tour de France has a long history. Founded to increase a magazine sale in 1903, the first Tour de France was only
6 days long. The first stage covered the distance between Paris to Lyon, 467km (291mi), and it took a grueling 17 hrs and 45 mi for Maurice Garin riding all day and almost all night to finish. The average speed was 25.4 kmph (15.87 mph).

The tour was suspended between 1915 and 1919 and from 1940 to 1946 for both World Wars.

The rider that won the most stages was Eddy Merckx with 34 stage wins.

Smallest winning margin between first and second place was 8 seconds in 1989 by Greg Lemond over Laurant Fignon.

By Airplane

You will have great access to many flights from all US airports to every major European Airport.
Connections are available every couple of hours to the Nice airport. Airlines serving the Nice airport.

Your final destination is the Aeroport Nice Cote d’Azur (NCE).

Please plan your arrival time accordingly, with an arrival not later than 6:00pm on June 30th 2013.

Taxi fares from the airport to the Hotel are from EUR27 and have to be paid in cash.

A Velissimo official will greet you at the hotel lobby.

A valid passport is required to enter France. U.S citizens are among the ones who may enter France for tourist or business purposes for up to 90 days without a Visa. For more information on entry requirements based on your citizenship, please contact your embassy or consulate in France. U.S. Citizens may also refer to the U.S. Department of State.

By Train

The French train network SNCF offers a direct TGV connection (high speed train) to Nice, transfer time about 6 hours, fares fluctuate depending of booking time and class. SNCF recommends to make reservations in advance. Final destination for train arrival is “Gare Nice Vell”.

Please note that the train schedule is subject to change.

If you opt to arrive earlier or if you need assistance with your travel plans in conjunction with your Velissimo tour, we will be glad to help you. Please contact your Velissimo Cycling Destinations Tour Coordinator at 1-800-219-2324.

Trip length: 11 days/10nights
Level of Activity: Moderate
Daily Rides: 40-90 miles
Accomplished: 394mi/630km

Tour Date: June 30th – July 10th 2013
Trip Price: USD $5,499 pp (dbl occupancy) – USD $1,950 (single supplement)

Call Us to reserve a spot for next year.

If you are calling from outside the US you may call us at +1.808.333.4560. For more tour action, also see our Amgen Tour of California Tour.